Science - In the spotlight

9th December 2011 at 00:00

It's dim up North

If you are complaining about winter - the cold, the wet, the grey, leaden skies - you might like to know there is a positive side.

People living in northern countries have evolved bigger eyes and brains so they can more easily process what they see in the gloomy light conditions. Scientists from Oxford University measured the eye socket and brain volumes of 55 skulls from museum collections, representing inhabitants of 12 countries.

The research, which was published in the Royal Society's Biology Letters journal, found that the size of both could be directly linked to the latitude of the individuals' home countries.

"As you move away from the equator, there's less and less light, so humans have had to evolve bigger eyes," lead author Eiluned Pearce said.

However, the larger brain size does not mean we are smarter. "It just means they need bigger brains to be able to see well," Ms Pearce said.

Visit the Royal Society's education website at http:royalsociety.orgeducation


A worksheet about eye colour from 1mightyhamster matches recessive and dominant genes. And take a look at pand's selection of science "fact of the week" posters. Explain evolution to young pupils with presentations and worksheets shared by cleb1202.

Visit the TES website for more on evolution and eye-catching resources. All links at

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